DWI Omnibus Bill Clears Senate Floor

The DWI Omnibus bill passed the Senate Floor on Tuesday, and now awaits action in the house. The bill adopted many of the provisions of the DWI task force as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Among the changes in this year’s bill includes the ability of defendants to use the affirmative defense. This comes after a Minnesota resident was arrested for drunk driving after fleeing her abusive partner. The court case resulting from the arrest resulted in a not guilty verdict, but the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that an affirmative defense could not be used for license revocation; this portion of the omnibus bill changes that. Under the bill, peace officers are required to tell a person under arrest the results of the field sobriety test so they can make an informed decision about what is happening to them. It also gives a 60-day window for those convicted of DWI to enroll in the ignition interlock program rather than have their vehicle seized, and adds several changes to DWI sentencing and the ignition interlock program. The bill also makes several policy changes bringing the criminal code more in line with administrative sanctions (i.e. license revocation, plate impoundment, etc.). Currently, harsher penalties result from a blood alcohol concentration of over .20 in the criminal code, but administrative penalties begin at .16%. The omnibus bill amends the criminal code to enhance penalties at .16% of blood alcohol concentration. The bill also makes several other changes in regard to plate impoundment, license revocation, and ignition interlock program participants. (S.F. 1073)

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